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Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Divorce is a Choice - Jan 7, 2006

Divorce is a Choice

January 7, 2006

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, CBS 11 News

With celebrity couples such as Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey divorcing at this time of year, many Americans may follow their example. Each January, many people decide to shed their marriage along with those extra holiday pounds. Attorneys and psychologists now tell us that January is one of the most active months for divorce. Here to explain this phenomenon is psychologist Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: What happens in January with marriage and divorce?

Dr. Sylvia: Along with those important resolutions we all make, many of us also reappraise our marriages. We seem to add up all the pros and cons of various events, relationships and ourselves, especially at the end of the year. Many people radically reassess their commitment. However, they wait, so that they can protect their children and the status quo until the holidays are over.

Q: Is it really better to wait until the holidays are over?

Dr. Sylvia: I think whether you wait or not has a lot to do with the extreme nature of your marriage. If you are in an abusive situation that cannot be changed, there is no time like the present. If you are in an emotionally estranged but stable situation, waiting until January makes more sense.

Q: Is it really fair to drop the "bomb" of divorce after the holidays?

Dr. Sylvia: Again, there is never an optimal time for marital dissolution. Using divorce in a vengeful, cruel manner will ultimately reflect poorly on you, so make sure you conduct yourself with dignity and kindness. However, viewing divorce as a battle may be realistic in some situations, especially when one spouse makes it clear that they will bully the other.

Q: Is there ever a good divorce?

Dr. Sylvia: Yes, there is a good divorce when one or both spouses have clearly outgrown the relationship and there is no returning to the original love between them. Also, whenever there is chronic infidelity, abuse and neglect, it is irresponsible to remain in that marriage. However, it is vital to remember that there is always sadness in leaving a spouse, no matter how legitimate you may feel in your grievances. Divorce is going to hurt. In the end, you owe it to your own conscience to have tried everything to save a struggling relationship.

Q: Is it really possible to revive a struggling marriage?

Dr. Sylvia: We see enormous courage in thousands of people every year who work hard to pull back from the edge. You can turn a desperate situation around if you are committed enough. People have an inaccurate idea of the reality of divorce. They believe that hardly anyone avoids it. An urban legend is that the divorce rate is at 50 to 60%. In reality, most psychologists consider the divorce rate to be around 40%. Although there was a sharp rise in the 1970's due to the no fault divorce laws being enacted, the rate still hovers around 40%. So, there's hope for anyone to possibly repair a broken marriage.

Q: Do factors such as education determine who divorces or not?

Dr. Sylvia: Currently, there is a steep decline in the rate according to education. College graduates have lower rates of divorce causing what sociologists call a "divorce divide" according to education. Families with highly educated mothers and families with less educated mothers are clearly moving in opposite directions. For college graduates, the divorce rate in the first ten years of marriage has plummeted to just over 16%.

Q: What is the advantage of remaining in a marriage that has been distressed?

Dr. Sylvia: Relationships are often our best teachers and overlooking the opportunity to grow by fleeing a relationship can be a dreadful mistake. Anger, resentment, disappointments and blame can blind us to the true worth of the other person and his benefit to our lives. Struggle is a part of every marriage, and enduring it can make you a better, wiser person.

Q: What should couples keep in mind if they are considering divorce?

Dr. Sylvia: Most people wait an average of six years before they seek help for a struggling relationship. By the time they make it into the counselor's office, one or both spouses have left the marriage. Remember that marriage counseling is cheaper than a divorce. Commitment is not a disposable commodity and people have an obligation to fight for their marriage. Call a psychologist specializing in relationship enhancement and repair.